VanMoof S4 E-Bike Review: The One to Buy

Well this is a surprise. Despite saying they would go straight from the 3-series to the 5-series of e-bikes, VanMoof just announced two new e-bikes, the full-size S4 and the smaller X4, days after their $50 S5 and A5 e-bikes. 4,000. started sending. At $2,498 / £2,198 / €2,198, the S4 and X4 models are not only priced to compete, but they should also require fewer support calls as there are far fewer things that can go wrong.

The fancy Halo Ring displays of the S5 and A5 are gone, as are Apple’s Find My integrated tracking, the fiddly three-speed automatic gear stick, and superfluous multifunction buttons that most regular commuters don’t need.

VanMoof electric bikes have been notorious for initial quality issues and you can easily find complaints about long wait times for support at Reddithe Vanmoof-ing Facebook Fan Pageand comment threads here on the edge.

According to VanMoof co-founders (and brothers) Taco and Ties Carlier, the S4 and X4 are meant to address concerns that VanMoof’s e-bikes have gotten too complicated for their own good.

Simpler, more accessible and more reliable

“We spent a lot of time listening to our potential driver. And what we clearly heard,” says Ties Carlier, “was the desire for our key features and iconic VanMoof design, in an e-bike that was even simpler, more accessible and more reliable. We designed the S4 and X4 with VanMoof’s iconic technology and design, but with a vastly simplified user experience specifically to meet their needs.”

We’ll see about the reliability claim. But what I can already say after riding an “evergreen” S4 for the past five days is this: If you’re looking for a VanMoof, then the S4 and X4 are the e-bikes. most people should buy, not the more expensive S5 or A5.

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The S4 and X4 are essentially the same bike with different frame types and wheel sizes. Collectively known as the SX4, they are assembled from a combination of technology inherited from VanMoof’s older e-bikes and the new flagship SA5 models. Notably, the SX4 has the better kick lockout of the SA5 and uses an improved two-speed internal gear hub like you’d find on the company’s e-bikes prior to the 2020 SX3 series. The S4 is based on the frame taller than the S3, so go for the X4 model if you’re not at least 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm).

Here’s a full breakdown comparing the SX4 to the discontinued SX3 and newer SA5 models:

VanMoof S4 and X4 compared to the previous generation S3 and X3 and the new S5 and A5.
Source: VanMoof

There’s no screen of any kind on the SX4 models, which is fine with me. But the SX4 ships with a SP connection phone holder (case provided by you) which allows you to launch the very nice VanMoof app to use as a dashboard if you wish. Unfortunately, the SX4 models lack the SA5’s USB-C charging port, but it does have hydraulic disc brakes, which is the norm for VanMoof.

Iconic front and rear lights integrated into the extended top tube.

The “evergreen” color scheme and orange wordmark are new.

Phone holder instead of any screen.

The improved two-speed internal gear hub has its legacy on VanMoof’s pre-S3 e-bikes.

Riding the S4 is a delight. I’m 183 cm (six feet) and prefer the S4, which is a few inches taller than the S5. And since I live in a city that doesn’t require a car, I appreciate the new 27.5-inch wheels with wide 2.25-inch puncture-resistant tires as someone who, for twenty years, has ridden a bike every day all over the place. weather type. I need a solid foundation to get the kids to school, commute to the office, and then come home with groceries, small appliances, or the occasional Christmas tree. However, the wider tire width presents a challenge on some bike racks designed for standard tires.

And despite lacking a torque sensor found on the SA5, the S4’s 250W front hub motor linked to the two-speed automatic (mechanical) shifter and RPM sensor still offered power-assisted driving. per pedal quite intuitive, especially when complemented with the occasional pressure. of the boost button. However, the ride could be improved.

The pedals can be slippery when it’s wet outside, and sometimes the S4’s pedal-assist power can be delivered for a fraction of a second too long after pedaling stops. And often after riding at medium to high speeds, stepping on the pedals will cause them to spin freely through one full revolution before reengaging with the chain drive. You’ll know the feeling if you’ve ever ridden a VanMoof S2 or X2.

Still, I’ll repeat what I said in the VanMoof S5 review, I wish VanMoof would offer a single speed belt drive option paired with that boost button. That would be magical and further reduce the chances of things going wrong.


The S4 (left) next to the S5 (right) and an S3 in the background in front of the VanMoof Amsterdam West store and service center.

I don’t have enough data for a range test yet; I’ll update this review with real world numbers as soon as I have them. VanMoof says the SX4 should have the same 37 mile (60 km) range as the SX3 and SA5 in full power mode and my tests on both e-bikes were between 47 km / 29.2 miles (S3) and 48, 6 km / 30.2 miles (S5). I’d expect the same from the S4 and its 478WH battery, maybe more, as it’s unaffected by the idle battery drain issue I discovered on the S5. Notably, the SX4’s batteries charge from 0 to 100 percent in 4 hours and 30 minutes with the included charger, two hours faster than the flagship SA5 series.

The SX4 models, like all VanMoofs, do not have user-removable batteries, which is a problem for anyone who has to haul the 47.6-pound (21.6 kg) e-bike up stairs. VanMoof offers a $348/€348 378Wh PowerBank Range Extender option for the S4 that can be charged inside.

The S4 at home in Amsterdam.

The S4 is defined by what it is not. At $2498, it’s not expensive for a premium electric bike in 2023, a price that brings the Cowboy 4 series down by $1000. The S4 also isn’t overloaded with features that most commuters don’t need and that could create headaches. in service in the future.

One thing the SX4 models add is color. You can choose a deep green like my review bike, a pastel purple, yellow, and a don’t call it “foam green” white. Colors that should help brighten up the most austere streets of the city.

The VanMoof X4 showing the four color options for it and the S4.
Image: VanMoof (edited by the edge)

The S4 I’ve been testing is an excellent e-bike, one of the best, and better than the VanMoof S5 in terms of value for money. No one knows if the S4 and X4 are still great e-bikes after months of wear and tear.

I asked VanMoof to address owners’ concerns about reliability and support. Here is the statement I received from the CEO and co-founder of Taco Carlier:

Improving the service is our priority. Greater reliability is at the heart of the S4 and X4 design and development process by addressing the top 6 challenges of the S3 and X3 and incorporating learnings from SA5. Our service network strategy has expanded to a greater focus on bicycle service to be closer to our riders, offer more choice and more capacity. More news here will follow in the coming weeks.

Yeah, I’m also curious to know what’s coming.

VanMoof currently offers one of the most extensive networks of service centers available in cities across Europe, Japan, and the US. That’s important because most VanMoof electric bike parts are custom-built and only available from VanMoof, so make sure you have a service center nearby if you’re interested in buy. You are also covered by a two year warranty in Europe, one in the United Statesand free 14 day returns.

Sales now start on a staggered basis before they are scheduled to ship in August. You can pre-order the S4 and X4 in the same “evergreen” color I reviewed as of today, purple at the end of May, yellow at the end of June, and “foam green” at the end of July.

I suggest you wait a while if you are tempted to buy. Let early adopters experience VanMoof’s claims of improved reliability and service – you’ve got better things to do with your time.

All photography by Thomas Ricker / The Verge


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